Canada isn’t exactly known for motorsport success. We had both Villeneueves, definitely our most notable contributions to motor racing, we have Lance Stroll, who people are starting to realise isn’t actually that bad and might actually deserve his seat, Nicholas Latifi, and a few people from before the 1970s that not many people remember. Despite this, there has been not one, but two constructors in Formula One that raced under a Canadian license.
The most famous of these two teams is most certainly Walter Wolf Racing. Founded by Austrian-Canadian
evil movie villain oil magnate after Frank Williams was forced out of his own team (resulting in him founding the modern Williams team), the Wolf team fielded several notable drivers such as Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, and Keke Rosberg, and got okay results, scoring a total of 79 points and 3 wins in their 48 race tenure. I think Wolf is a right bastard, but that’s an impressive driver lineup although none were at their prime with the team, and black and gold is always an attractive colour combo.
F1 nerds are likely to know of Wolf, but it’s likely nobody except the nerdiest of nerds knows of the first Canadian team to give F1 a shot, Stebro.
Stebro was a Canadian race car manufacturer owned by the German-born Peter Broeker. Stebro’s background was in Formula Junior, and they only ever entered one Formula One race. Broeker made a deal with the English Martin racing engine company to supply an engine for his new Formula One car, the Mk. IV. There was but one slight problem, the Martin power unit was an absolute dog.
The Martin engines were incredibly unreliable and worse still, the company basically ghosted Broeker when he dared ask about engines that he had already paid for. With the Martin engines no longer a possibility for the upcoming US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Broeker hastily dropped in a Ford four-cylinder power plant. That’s right. Four cylinders. In a Formula One race.
Upon seeing the now “finished” car, the driver Broeker had hired for the race, fellow Canadian and relatively succesful Formula Junior driver Ernie DeVos basically packed his bags and left. Leaving Broeker to decide to just drive the cr himself. The car was about as slow as you’d expect a 110 hp four cylinder car in an era of 200 hp V8s to be. And an oil seal failed on the engine, resulting in the car dumping oil across the track and ending qualifying. Ross Brawn, Peter Broeker was not.
But amazingly, through sheer luck and willpower, the team’s sole car came in seventh in the race. He wasn’t even last place out of the finishers. He was second last, finishing ahead of Swedish driver Jo Bonnier’s Cooper. It was impressive result for a car that was basically nailed together overnight in a Canadian man’s garage because he spent too much time waiting for an engine with enough power. Broeker decided that F1 wasn’t exactly his game and went back to Formula Junior, with some success.
Broeker died in 1980, and was mostly forgotten, but as the first Canadian to compete in and finish an F1 race, the first Canadian F1 team owner, and as a pioneer of bodge-job engineering, he and his team that I just found out about now hold a special place in my heart.